When the term “Internet of Things” was first coined in 1999 by AutoID Center’s Kevin Ashton, it was used in relation to the fact that computers at the time were entirely dependent on human interaction. This was considered a risk because, “…people have limited time, attention and accuracy—all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world”. Therefore, it was believed that if computers could become more intelligent and capable of gathering data themselves, they could be used to track it much more effectively.
Since first used, the meaning of “IoT” has evolved somewhat, mostly now being understood simply as the interconnection of the internet and everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data. Some common examples in use in 2019 are smartwatches and smart thermostats.
Staggeringly, Gartner believes that the number of connected things worldwide will reach 20 billion by the year 2020!
But what does this future look like?
As with many of the emerging technologies that we love to learn about here at Snap Out, they often work best together. So, let’s take a look at how IoT is predicted to partner up with other emerging technologies in the coming years, and the trends that the future holds within the world of IoT.
IoT, meet AI…
IoT products including wearables and smart home devices are almost constantly on. This means that they are consistently gathering data, be it room-temperature or the heart rate of someone wearing a smartwatch.
As such, that there is a growing need for systems to interpret and analyse this data, as human analysis would be inefficient due to the sheer scale. And this is where AI (artificial intelligence) comes in.
In the words of TechUK, “As IoT devices will generate vast amounts of data, then AI will be functionally necessary to deal with these huge volumes if we’re to have any chance of making sense of the data”.
The benefit of incorporating AI with IoT is that it can effectively process the vast amounts of data that is constantly being streamed from IoT devices, in both real time and post-event. This means that the information received can be used to respond quickly to certain situations as they are happening, and also identify patterns in things that have already happened and been logged.
It is believed that data analytics tools, driven by AI and machine learning algorithms will be of increasing demand in the next few years. This will only lead to its further growth in use within IoT products.
Blockchain: Keeping our devices saf
Perhaps one of the most important things for many IoT consumers is the sense of security it’s technology offers. It’s believed that “Smart home infrastructure, wearable devices and autonomous vehicles are among top targets for vicious hackers and robbers, making them vulnerable to breaches and violations”.
Therefore, for those of us who own a smartwatch, or have a voice assistant device in their home such as Amazon’s Alexa, wouldn’t it be great to know that there is technology out there protecting some of our most sensitive data?
After all, these devices typically gather and hold somewhat personal data about or daily routines or even our health, so I would certainly welcome assurance that this is being protected from being hacked by humans.
And thanks to Blockchain’s cryptographic algorithms, this continues to seem likely if the two technologies joined forces.
IoT in Commerce
As well as it’s partnerships with other emerging technologies, one of the next key trends for the future of IoT is it’s impact on commerce. I’m sure all of us have at some point bought something online, but have we ever considered the behind-the-scenes technology making it possible?
Well, IoT could be one of these.
It’s thought that IoT could help (or continue to help in areas where this is already the case) within commerce through the more efficient tracking of an order, from the point of order, to the delivery. Thanks to the implementation of connected devices, “each piece of inventory is able to be tracked through a management system so goods can be located automatically no matter where they may be.” This means that for us as the consumer, gone could be the days of waiting in for hours on end for a parcel to arrive!
It doesn’t stop there though, Forbes’ Michelle Evans suggests that in the future, these intelligent and connected devices could begin to auto-replenish certain household goods based on accurate measurements of a household’s consumption. Things such as printer cartridges could be measured and monitored by the printer itself, and automatically re-ordered when they are running low.
Keeping things Ethical
As IoT becomes more and more embedded in our daily lives, to the extent that many traditionally human-operated tasks are becoming automated and carried out by these smart, connected devices, it can be an understandably daunting concept to many.
Nick Jones, of Gartner, emphasised this when he said: “Successful deployment of an IoT solution demands that it’s not just technically effective but also socially acceptable”. Jones also goes on to note that within the corporate world, it would be good practice to employ ethical boards to review any strategies, and have external consultancies assess any systems and algorithms so as to gather an unbiased opinion.
I guess the moral of the story here is that if all these connected devices are being designed to help and enhance the users’ lives, it’s vital that users are fully briefed and understand not only the benefits, but the full range of features, rather than leaving them in the dark about elements such as who has access to their data. These devices really can revolutionise many daily tasks for us, so it certainly does seem sensible to make sure everyone is on board.
Having identified some key trends and things to bear in mind over the coming years of IoT technology, we really do believe it’s exciting times ahead. The streamlining of many daily processes could have great positive impacts on consumers’ lives. As long as everyone is fully in-the-know about all the ins and outs of IoT, and how other emerging technologies can work together to enhance this, it seems that the only way is up for the future of IoT!
We’d love to hear about your involvement with and opinions of the future of IoT. Please do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
The Snap Out Team ?
Written by Emily Peters